Two Miami lawyers are providing counsel in an invasion-of-privacy and stalking complaint against the Church of Scientology and “That ’70s Show” actor Danny Masterson.
Podhurst Orseck litigators Ricardo Martinez-Cid and Lea Bucciero are part of the multifirm team representing plaintiffs who purport to have endured physical and emotional distress at the hands of Masterson and the organization. A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County alleges Masterson sexually assaulted plaintiff Chrissie Carnell Bixler and two women whose names are withheld.
The complaint also contends the Church of Scientology has organized long-term harassment campaigns against the women in order to silence, intimidate and stop them from speaking out about their alleged interactions with Masterson. The suit characterized the actor as having been “born into Scientology.”
Martinez-Cid said he anticipates additional lawsuits against the Church of Scientology in Florida, New York, California and around the country. He said he and Bucciero were brought onto the case by Philadelphia-based attorney and Laffey, Bucci & Kent partner Brian Kent.
The Podhurst Orseck partner described Kent as a close friend, who has worked on behalf of sexual abuse victims as both a prosecutor and a private attorney.
“When [Kent] called Lea and me to ask whether we would join in the fight to hold to The Church of Scientology accountable for the abuses that have occurred, we were eager,” said Martinez-Cid, who added that his team has interviewed dozens allegedly victimized by Scientology. “We are proud to represent these individuals brave enough to come forward.”
Kent returned the compliment. In an emailed statement, he described the Podhurst Orseck attorneys’ contribution to the case as “essential.”
“Podhurst Orseck has established itself as one of the top law firms in the country, dedicated to fighting for the rights of those who have been victimized by corporations and institutions,” Kent said. “Having personally known Ricardo Martinez-Cid and Lea Bucciero for years, both professionally and as close, personal friends, I have seen their talents shine through in their work as well as their commitment and dedication to exposing abuses within organizations like Scientology.”
The Church of Scientology is being represented by Scheper Kim & Harris attorney William Forman. The Los Angeles-based lawyer said the lawsuit is “ludicrous and a sham.”
“This baseless lawsuit will go nowhere,” Forman said in an emailed statement. The attorney contended the plaintiffs are pawns in a moneymaking scam by actress Leah Remini, a former Scientologist and outspoken critic of the organization.
Masterson’s lawyer, Lavely & Singer attorney Andrew Brettler, provided the Daily Business Review with a statement from his client calling the suit “beyond ridiculous.”
“I’m not going to fight my ex-girlfriend in the media like she’s been baiting me to do for more than two years,” Masterson said. “Once her lawsuit is thrown out, I intend to sue her and the others who jumped on the bandwagon for the damage they caused me and my family.”